Outstanding Arab World Debut by American Mezzo-Soprano Joyce DiDonato at Abu Dhabi Festival

ABU DHABI, 25th January, 2019 (WAM) — Under the Patronage of Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Tolerance, the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation, ADMAF, welcomed two-time Grammy award winner and globally renowned American mezzo-soprano opera singer, Joyce DiDonato, for her Arab World debut of “In War & Peace: Harmony Through Music”, a pre-Festival performance in the 16th year of the region’s largest celebration of arts and culture at the annual Abu Dhabi Festival.

Heralded as the most potent female singer of her generation, DiDonato’s eloquent and moving plea for world peace in a modern, turbulent and violent era, culminated in an unforgettable night of rousing music and a voice described by The Times as “nothing less than 24-carat gold”. The special performance was attended by Sheikh Nahyan and Huda I. Alkhamis-Kanoo, Founder of ADMAF and Artistic Director of the Abu Dhabi Festival, among others.

Performed at the Emirates Palace Auditorium, the semi-theatricalised concert production featured Italy’s dynamic and world-renowned il pomo d’oro orchestra, under the baton of conductor Maxim Emelyanychev, in an evening of Baroque opera arias that explored the subject of war and peace. Born of a personal project to create a set of little-known Neapolitan Baroque opera arias, In War & Peace: Harmony Through Music was first produced as an album in 2016.

Alkhamis-Kanoo said, “This enthralling performance of In War and Peace could not have been more perfectly timed, as the UAE enters 2019, the Year of Tolerance. Tolerance is something each of us would do well to increase in our lives, no matter our cultural background, for it helps us to understand and appreciate one another, and opens the doors for dialogue and diplomacy.

“This was a significant Arab World debut, held in the capital, and one that exemplifies the Abu Dhabi Festival’s commitment to bringing the very finest world-class artists to these shores, inspiring our youth to explore their own talents and abilities.”

Liborio Stellino, Ambassador of Italy to the UAE, said, “I am delighted and proud of the many Italian ‘ingredients’ at the opening of the sumptuous Abu Dhabi Festival 2019. il pomo d’oro orchestra is indeed not only named after a famous Italian opera, but it is also defined by several talented Italian artists and the management, while the internationally renowned mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato has regaled the world audiences in reviving the best Italian early baroque tradition. It is, therefore, a real privilege to acknowledge such special ingredients under the inspiring cultural mastery and civic passion of Huda I. Alkhamis-Kanoo, certain to be rewarded with another ‘recipe’ of magic quality at Emirates Palace. Once again this year we are going to strongly support the Abu Dhabi Festival.”

This year, the festival will present more than 500 international artistes from 17 different countries, featuring masterpieces by 18 different composers in 18 productions, two co-productions and two commissions in more than 100 events across 25 venues. The illustrious mix of artists and genres across opera, ballet, orchestra, jazz and flamenco resonate with the Festival’s central theme, “Culture of Determination”, as it joins forces with the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi to celebrate those who battle against the odds to make a positive impact on society. The ADF19 will also celebrate the Republic of Korea as its “Country of Honour”.

The festival will include Korea’s first professional ballet company, the Korean National Ballet; one of Korea’s leading theatre orchestras, the Korean Symphony Orchestra; award-winning American jazz pianist extraordinaire, composer, producer, educator Quincy Jones, Artist, Justin Kauflin; Welsh bass-baritone, Sir Bryn Terfel; Sara Baras, considered one of the best flamenco dancers and choreographers in the world, and a performance by France’s oldest national ballet company, the Paris Opera Ballet, by George Balanchine, to conclude the festival.

The festival will also host an exhibition titled Distant Prospects, presenting the history of European landscape painting from world-renowned Liechtenstein, The Princely Collections, including permanent loans from The Hohenbuchau Collection and other private collections, a specially designed residency will offer a unique experience for five practising Emirati artists who will be visiting Vaduz and Vienna through an itinerary of cultural engagements.

The ADF19 will also recognise outstanding achievements in the music industry through the Abu Dhabi Festival Awards. This year’s recipients will be Aurélie Dupont, for her outstanding devotion to the art of ballet, Barenboim – Said Akademie, for its commitment to building bridges through arts and culture, and the late Ousha bint Khalifa Al Sweidi/ in honour of her exceptional contributions to Emirati poetry.

ADF19 will return with a series of Youth Platforms, empowering young, aspiring talent in the arts and culture fields through the ADF Visual Arts Education Programme; Young Filmmakers’ Circle; Riwaq Al Fikr; Riwaq Al Adab wal Kitab; The Gulf Capital – Abu Dhabi Festival Visual Arts Award; The Gulf Capital – ADMAF Creativity Award; The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award, TOTAL Design Commission, ADMAF Design Fund, Tandem Al Emarat, UAE Theatre Circle, Young Media Leaders, The Artists’ Studio and Ministry of Science. The festival’s Community Programmes will include an engaging, innovative and inspiring calendar of events, exhibitions, performances and workshops for all ages, a highlight of which is the return of the Festival in the Park – a two-day-and-night line-up of workshops and events, including stand-up comedy artists performing at the Umm Al Emarat Park.

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